Epithelial Repair and Regeneration

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Abstract

Contact with the environment positions the respiratory epithelium at risk for acute and chronic injury from infectious pathogens, noxious agents, and inflammatory processes. Thus, to protect gas transfer within the lung the epithelium is programmed for routine maintenance and repair. Programs for repair are directed by epithelial, mesenchymal, and inflammatory signals that collectively constitute highly regulated networks. Principal components of the repair network are developmental morphogens, integrin and growth factor signaling molecules, and transcription factors. The epithelium responds to these signals with a remarkable plasticity and is bulwarked by a population of lung progenitor cells to ensure maintenance and repair for fluid balance and host defense functions.